All information in this blog post is correct as of the publishing date, 22.11.19.
Christmas may not be the time of year that instantly springs to mind when most of us think about taking holidays to Guernsey, with the summer months offering plenty of opportunities to explore the island’s beautiful beaches and stunning island scenery over many long days and in the warm sunshine.
Nevertheless, anyone who has spent a week or two in Guernsey during the festive season will know that there is a very special atmosphere to be enjoyed here in November and December. Not only is it quieter than at peak holiday times in summer, but there are also some lovely events taking place around the island that will allow visitors to discover this unique destination in a whole new light. Read on for information about our recommendations for what to do in Guernsey this Christmas.
Found in the heart of the island’s capital, St Peter Port, is Market Square, and it should come as no surprise that it is the focal point for the island’s Christmas celebrations. It’ll be no different this year, as the market opens for late-night shopping every Thursday in December from 5 pm to 9 pm and will be open on Sundays from 9 am to 5 pm. The Christmas market on the square is the perfect place to buy some original gifts for loved ones, with stalls offering items such as hand-painted pottery, photos and art prints, handmade crafts, children’s trinkets and much more. Market Square will also be where the town’s Christmas lights are being switched on, on 30th November, which will include carol singing and a visit from Father Christmas! Visit our Market Square page to find our more regarding the history of the square.
There will be late night shopping opportunities at the Bridge, St Sampson, on the first three Tuesdays in December, and you will also be able to see Father Christmas there on 6th December. The visits from Father Christmas will include letters from the children and turning on the lights. The best thing about shopping for Christmas gifts in Guernsey is that it is VAT-free!
You don’t have to limit your Christmas shopping to just Guernsey during the festive period as there is normally shopping day trips to Herm on selected dates during November and December.
A seasonal ice rink has opened every year since 2014 in Guernsey and is back once again at Le Friquet Garden Centre in Castel. Ice Skate Guernsey is the only real ice rink on the island and will be open seven days a week from 7th December to 5th January, but will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. 45-minute sessions begin at 10 am with the last sessions at 7 pm Monday to Saturday and 4 pm on Sundays. On Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the last sessions are at 3 pm. Skate aids for children are on a first-come, first-served basis, and tickets are £7.50 per child and £9.50 per adult, which includes free skate hire.
It is worth booking your session in advance as the ice rink can get busy in the peak evening times. The ice rink also recommends wearing something warm, especially thick socks and gloves, and maybe a change of clothes for if – or when – you fall over!
Guernsey will see plenty of Christmas events in the lead up to the big day for visitors to enjoy. The annual “Candie Christmas” returns to the beautiful grounds of Candie Gardens at the Guernsey Museum every Sunday in December. You can expect live music, film screening, crafts for children and adults, themed trails through the museum’s galleries and a Santa’s grotto. Normal admission to the museum applies, and there will be an extra charge for visiting the grotto.
The Guernsey Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Club are putting on their 61st annual pantomime, and this year it’s Jack and the Beanstalk. The panto is on from 21st December to 4th January, with matinees at 2 pm and evening performances at 7.30 pm on certain days. Tickets are now on sale, and you are sure to be delighted by the singing, dancing, comedy and costumes!
New for 2019 is an uplifting family event at Sausmarez Manor that will help kick off the winter season. The event, Illuminate, won’t be like your usual seasonal festivities; your senses will be treated to an amazing light display in the garden and forest. The Art Exhibition will have creative activities for children too. Illuminate takes place from 28th to 30th November from 5 pm. Prices are between £2.50 and £6. As much of the event is outdoors, be sure to wrap up warm!
The Petit Train Christmas lights tour is back in 2019, with tours starting from 1st December. The Petit Train, known as Victor, is used by visitors in the summer to tour around St Peter Port, but for two weeks leading to Christmas, the train runs a special service taking passengers around the town to see all the festive lights. The Petit Train with art studio Iris & Dora are also hosting a trip on the Polar Express on the 8th and 15th December, with tickets £22.50 per adult.
It can be puzzling why you’d want to take a dip in the sea at Christmas, but it has become a tradition around many parts of the UK and is a fun experience that raises money for local charities. There are two popular Christmas swims you can enjoy on Guernsey. The first is on Christmas Day, where you can take a dip in the bathing pools in St Peter Port for the Polar Bear Swim organised by the Guernsey Swimming Club – and this is free to enter.
On Boxing Day, you can head to Cobo Bay for the Boxing Day Dip which is in aid of The Guernsey Cheshire Home. The swim starts at 11 am, and fancy dress is encouraged, with a theme decided by the residents. Of course, if you don’t want to step into the cold water, you are welcome to observe and cheer others on!